The City of Guelph, Ont., says downtown streets will close this weekend to make way for its dining district that will allow restaurants and businesses to expand patios onto the road amid coronavirus safety measures.
Parts of Macdonell and Wyndham streets will be closed to vehicles from 8 a.m. Saturday through 7 a.m. Monday.
The city has maintained that the move is to support businesses trying to reopen as novel coronavirus restrictions in the province ease.
“We’re working with the Downtown Guelph Business Association to create more outdoor dining space this patio season to support businesses recovering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Christine Chapman, the city’s acting manager of economic development.
She said safety remains a priority and outdoor patios still need to comply with public health requirements and provincial orders.
Businesses must also apply for a temporary permit to extend onto the street and coordinate their plans with the Downtown Guelph Business Association.
The association’s Executive Director Marty Williams said it’s an exciting move.
“Expanding patios helps restaurants make room for people who want to come support our downtown businesses and enjoy our vibrant downtown culture,” he said.
Those hitting a patio do not need to wear a mask outside but will need to wear one if they are going into the restaurant to use the washroom or pay, as per orders issued by public health.
The city said it will see how things go this weekend before confirming any future weekend closures.
The move comes after city council approved the temporary patios during a meeting in June and it falls in line with the city’s mandate to explore and implement programs that help Guelph recover from the pandemic.
Other Ontario cities that have tried road closures for similar purposes include Barrie, Kingston, Hamilton, St. Catherine’s and Ottawa’s Byward Market.
The exact road closures are on Wyndham Street between Carden and Cork Streets, and Macdonell Street between the Macdonell parking lot and the West Parkade.
Parking is free for up to two hours in lots on Baker Street, Wyndham Street and Macdonell Street. Any cars parked on the street within the dining district will be towed.
The city is reminding the community that all businesses in the closed area remain open and sidewalks will continue to be open and accessible. Cyclists are asked to walk their bikes through the dining district.
Guelph Transit buses will have temporary detours on Saturday and Sunday. More information on routes can be found on Guelph Transit’s website.